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Q: I've always been known as "the funny guy" but have never had a chance to share my unique sense of humor with a live audience.

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A: Finding a stage and an audience is the easy part; making 'em laugh is up to you. Several Manhattan venues host "open mike" or "new talent" nights at little or no cost. (Of course, the price your ego might pay is another story.) New York Comedy Club (241 East 24th Street; 212-696-5233) opens its stage on Monday evenings to any brave soul willing to pay $3 and put his funniest foot forward for 5 minutes. (Kurt Vonnegut often turns up in the audience on open-mike nights, but, hey, no pressure.) Another option is to call ahead and book yourself into its "New Talent Showcase," presented Fridays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at 7:15 p.m. -- just bring three paying audience members at $10 a head, and take home a free videotape to distribute or destroy. The truly precocious -- or foolhardy -- jokester is free to try out for its professional lineup. The next audition is on November 4 from 4 to 7 p.m. For a quick primer on stand-up technique, check out Stand-Up NY (236 West 78th Street; 212-595-0850). They provide a complimentary comedy lesson -- two hours of instruction followed by a practice performance. If further study is needed, Carolines on Broadway (1626 Broadway; 212-774-4277) offers a $349, eight-week class taught by twenty-year veteran jester Tommy Koenig, where you'll be on a stage, mike in hand, from the first class.


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